By John Riggi
In the past six months, Apex Clean Energy, in an all-out attempt to allay clear and present fears over industrial wind turbine encroachment on the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (and risk to jobs at that base), brought an ex-military, pro-wind consultant to Western New York for private meetings with a number of interested parties (town and county government and Save Ontario Shores, to name a few).
Reports from these meetings showed the consultant indicating that personal experience in the military, as well as personal government acquaintances, led to the conclusion that the Lighthouse Wind Project would be unlikely to pose a risk to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
It is extremely interesting that this ex-military consultant is an employee of Cassidy and Associates (a pro-wind consulting firm). This is the same firm that is trying to save bases closer to the population centers on the Eastern Seaboard in New Jersey (including the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, as well as the Earle Naval Weapons Station, the 177th Fighter Wing and a Coast Guard training center).
Interestingly, this ex-military consultant also previously served as vice president of federal business for Apex Clean Energy. History aside, Cassidy and Associates is a pro-wind consultant whose job is to minimize the specter of risk at the Niagara air base.
Coincident paths to profits make for strange bedfellows indeed.
The verdict on the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is the sole responsibility of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission. The decision on whether to close the base will be made by, and only by, BRAC. Any reason, such as encroachment on military operations caused by industrial wind turbines, will remain a concern in potential closure of the air base. Even Gov. Andrew Cuomo has no say in the BRAC decision.
So, the questions to us Western New Yorkers are clear:
Are we to believe those who are looking to profit from a project that may very well pose an encroachment risk to the air base?
Are we willing to risk over 3,000 well-paying, local air base jobs in Western New York based on informal letters and Apex statements of support for this destructive project? Remember that Apex Clean Energy stands to generate handsome profits from the potential loss of jobs in Western New York.
Given that BRAC has the ultimate decision, how much faith are we willing to put into informal statements that downplay the risk to the air base?
It is safe to assume that the very existence of Apex’s Lighthouse Wind Project does not strengthen probabilities for ongoing operations at the air base.
This should be enough for all Western New Yorkers to join Rep. Chris Collins, the legislatures of Erie, Niagara and Orleans counties and members of the Western New York state legislative delegation in opposing the Apex Lighthouse Wind Project.
John Riggi is a councilman for the Town of Yates and was president of Save Ontario Shores, the Lighthouse Wind opposition group.